I was complaining to my husband over dinner last night. I had taken a look at my schedule and realized that I was booked for a seminar the following day. Although it had sounded like a good idea at the time, I was now lamenting the fact that I’d be tied up all day. On top of that, I always felt wary of attending this specific event every year. The truth was that I felt anxious about seeing people from a previous workplace at the event. You see, the job had not ended on positive terms— the supervisor had suddenly become disenchanted with my talents.
As I drove to the seminar, my mind skipped around from thought to thought. I envisioned being in the seminar and feeling uncomfortable. I imagined that I would have no one to talk to during the event and I wouldn’t have anywhere to sit. I saw myself asking people if I could join their table with their response being anything but enthusiastic. My brain swirled with these toxic thoughts until I arrived at the event.
As I made my way into the room, I was surprised to spot a good friend. I had no idea that she was going to be there. Another woman walked by and was very excited to see me. She came over to say hello and proceeded to remind me that we had gone to school together. She commented that she had been reading about me and was so interested in what I was doing. We talked for a while and I moved on. A few minutes later another woman walked by and called my name.
Again, I had no idea who she was but I spent the remainder of the morning trying to figure it out. It finally dawned on me how I knew her— she had worked at the previous job where things had gone sour. On a break, I worked my way over to her table to talk to her further.
We discussed our current careers and she shared that she was still with the same company. She then looked at me and said, “You know, a funny thing happened after you left. I was going through some old papers and I came upon a memo from years before addressed to all the employees. It was concerning some policies that the director felt weren’t being enforced.” She continued, “The thing that really struck me was the tone of the letter. I wish you could have seen it. It was so harsh, so ugly and so not appropriate. It made me think of the way she had treated you. At the time, I felt her behavior toward you was so out of character. I realize now that it wasn’t out of character at all.”
I finally spoke. “So I must have made her feel threatened.” She nodded her head. I spent the rest of the seminar soaking in this new bit of information.
What if I had given in to my unrealistic thoughts and anxiety and not attended this event? It’s one thing to have negative thoughts, but it’s quite another to give in to those negative thoughts and let it affect your actions in life. Being willing to ride out those uncomfortable feelings that we all have now and then enabled me to have the exhilarating experience of finally being validated.
Each day you have the chance to become a better person. Each day you have the opportunity to grow as an individual and learn from your experiences. Each day, you are given this gift but you might not always grab for it.
I hope you grab for it.